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Until recently, statutory rape laws applied only to females, ignoring situations involving sex between an adult female and underage male.

The Dixon case is just one in a long line of similar legal battles teens have faced in the last decade.Because the laws weren’t intended to punish two individuals close in age who engage in consensual sex, in many jurisdictions, an adult who is two or three years older than the minor will not be charged with statutory rape, or will be penalized less severely than a much older adult.These so-called “Romeo and Juliet” laws provide defenses and reduced penalties in cases where the couple is relatively close in age.However, there are still restrictions in some states about the type of sexual activity that is permissible, such as oral sex and sodomy, as well as restrictions on relationships involving a minor and a person of authority, including teachers, coaches, or tutors.All states have special provisions if any physical force was used or serious physical injury resulted.

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